Resolutions have never been my thing.
Less than 10 percent of resolutions that are made are kept by year’s end. Oh, and 25 percent fail by January 15.
I guess I just don’t want to set myself up for failure.
But this year is different in a way. Back in October, I read Remember God by Annie F. Downs. In the book, she mentions how she prays about and picks a word that is like the theme of her year. While she picks hers on her birthday, I thought I’d start mine on Jan. 1 – the start of the brand new year and only eight days before my birthday.
Around two weeks ago, I started to pray about what my word would be. I got a word … and then prayed again for a different one. But over and over again, that same word kept coming back to me.
It’s an adjective, defined as something done on purpose; deliberate.
While my initial thought of this word was how lame it sounded, throughout the past couple of weeks it’s made more and more sense why this is the word God wants as the theme of my 2019.
Before I even get started explaining this, y’all, I am a hard worker. When it needs to be, hustle is my middle name. I want to get things done, get them finished before the deadline if possible and do these things in excellent fashion.
But when it comes to things outside of work, I can coast. Autopilot is how I get from one thing to the next. Two summers ago, I realized I had gained some weight since my move to Waco. I worked at it pretty hard for a couple of months but haven’t been too concerned with it since.
There’s a great place I work out at here in Waco. The founders were recently named the Wacoans of the Year. This place is awesome. But if I don’t feel like going, even if there’s a window in my schedule that fits with theirs, I’ll skip the workout for the day.
And then there’s food. I go to HEB and get things to cook. But if I don’t feel like cooking, like it might take too much time or something, I’ll drive through somewhere and pick something up. Sounds harmless, right? My budget will tell you otherwise.
Probably the biggest hit this cruise control aspect of my life has come to my faith life. Last year was the first year my Bible didn’t become a dusty decoration on my nightstand for an extended period of time. I wanted to write down in a journal a verse for every day of the year. Praise the Lord, hallelujah, I accomplished that. Baby steps.
So you can already see how well intentional fits me. I need to do things on purpose. Not half-hearted. Not hoping my efforts will fade into the background and not be noticed. I need to live my life on purpose.
With this word came a thought of Scripture that goes hand in hand with this, I think. I really like the way The Message words it, so here it is – Jeremiah 17:5-10
God’s message: “Cursed is the strong one who depends on mere humans, who thinks he can make it on muscle alone and sets aside God as dead weight. He’s like a tumbleweed on the prairie, out of touch with the good earth. He lives rootless and aimless in a land where nothing grows. But blessed is the man who trusts me, God, the woman who sticks with God. They’re like trees replanted in Eden, putting down roots near the rivers – never a worry through the hottest of summers, never dropping a leaf, serene and calm through all droughts, bearing fresh fruit every season. The heart is hopelessly dark and deceitful, a puzzle that no one can figure out. But I, God, search the heart and examine the mind. I get to the heart of the human. I get to the root of things. I treat them as they really are, not as they pretend to be.
Let’s just start with the first sentence, shall we?
Cursed is the strong one who depends on mere humans, who thinks he can make it on muscle along and sets aside God as dead weight.
Anybody else feeling a bit of conviction besides me? So often I find myself trying to get things done on my own, power through situations, instead of relying on God and His strength to help me.
He’s like a tumbleweed on the prairie, out of touch with the good earth. He lives rootless and aimless in a land where nothing grows.
I lived in Lubbock for nearly four years. My parents live an hour north of Amarillo. I know tumbleweeds. I’ve had to dodge a few over the years as they are blown across the road while I’m trying to get from one place to another. You don’t want them stuck underneath your car, obviously. The only time they stop moving is when they get caught in the barbed wire fence on the side of the road. Those things aren’t life giving. They’re a hassle to pick up and annoying to dodge. They are moved so easily and go in the way the wind decides. By living on autopilot, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been blown around with no feeling of security.
But blessed is the man who trusts me, God, the woman who sticks with God. They’re like trees replanted in Eden, putting down roots near rivers – never a worry through the hottest of summers, never dropping a leaf, serene and calm through all droughts, bearing fresh fruit every season.
Those who trust (firm belief in the strength of someone or something) in God are like trees who put down roots. Because of those roots, the trees aren’t affected by the wind that blows through like the tumbleweeds. Instead, the wind merely flutters the leaves on the tree’s strong branches as its roots have it firmly planted in the ground. There’s no moving that thing.
And because of its firm foundation on trust, there’s no worry when the highs and lows of life come through. Because it continues to receive life through those roots.
The heart is hopelessly dark and deceitful, a puzzle that no one can figure out. But I, God, search the heart and examine the mind. I get to the heart of the human. I get to the root of things. I treat them as they really are, not as they pretend to be.
I’m an enneagram 3. I’m a performer at heart, wanting people to always see the best. Vulnerability is not awesome. I can fool lots of people as I feel one thing but project the complete opposite. But I can’t fool God. He knows my heart. As this translation puts it – He treats them as they really are, not as they pretend to be.
I can act like I’ve got it all together, am super responsible in every aspect and am awesome all the time. But that’s not the full truth. And as I continue to chase what the world describes as perfection, I’ll continue to perform.
But if I’m intentional about how I’m living life, if I’m rooted firmly in the ground instead of being tossed all over the place like a tumbleweed, then things will be OK no matter the surrounding circumstances.
It’s like The Survivor Tree that endured the 9/11 terror attacks at the World Trade Center. This pear tree was discovered at Ground Zero severely damaged, with snapped roots and broken branches, but after it was cared for by the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, was returned to the Memorial in 2010. If you look closely, you can see how the old branches make way for the new branches. As 911memorial.org puts it, this tree stands as a living reminder of resilience, survival and rebirth.